1998-09-03 - Utter Nonsense
The Cross Series, Part 51
Luke 24:11 And these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.
The excited words of Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary; the mother of James and John must have come in a blur of emotion. They had just seen Jesus, alive and whole. These women had just had their lives changed forever. They are flying on a mountain-top experience. They rush in to tell their friends and share their unspeakable joy. The flames of their hearts are met with a bucket of ice water. The people they had hoped to cheer met their news with taunts and disbelief.
If you've ever had a similar experience, you know it can be crushing, maddening and frustrating individually and all at once. If you've ever realized that you have done this to someone after the fact, it can leave you full of sorrow and embarrassment at your foolishness. The words of Mary and her friends seemed like such foolishness that the group began to disband and head for home.
Luke 24:13-16 And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they were conversing with each other about all these things which had taken place. 15 And it came about that while they were conversing and discussing, Jesus Himself approached, and began traveling with them. 16 But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.
These two had shaken off the worst of the sting and were headed back to their former lives. Their friends would probably have more than a few good laughs on them. But, there wasn't much to do about it. It was over, and it was time to go home and pick up the pieces they had dropped when they left to follow Jesus. Still trying to make sense of all the happenings of the last few days, the two talked between themselves when Jesus dropped in on them. Knowing all things, Jesus knew that they would be heading for home and had a plan to make sense of the nonsense.
The Lord drops in on their conversation. Feigning ignorance He draws them out to share their hearts. They confess that the man they followed was a mighty prophet. They admit their error in thinking this man was the Messiah. And they share the nonsense the women of their group had come back with this morning, that Jesus was risen from the grave.
Luke 24:25-27 And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 "Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
I can just about see Jesus laughing and basically saying, "Don't you see?! How could you miss it?" He had told them things during the last three years that they had struggled to grasp. Falling back into their orthodoxy, they were unable to make the leap of faith to take the Master's words literally. I will die. I will rise again. It is not unlike any of us before Jesus touched our hearts and changed our lives forever. Piece by piece, Jesus constructs the clues that had pointed to Calvary for centuries - concealed from the eyes of mankind. Bit by bit the pieces fell into place as the wonder returned to their hearts.
Luke 24:28-29 And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He would go farther. 29 And they urged Him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over." And He went in to stay with them.
Do you recall asking those questions you could hardly ask? Can this Jesus Christ be real? He seems to be, but it's such a leap of faith and I don't know. It is the struggle between the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of God. They urged Him. Something in their hearts and minds compelled them to have this traveler, this stranger, stay with them. He had something, something they wanted desperately. The simple faith that was being expressed was calling them. They had to know. Do we have something the world wants? We do indeed. The quiet, simple peace that the world seeks is ours. Share it with someone and let Jesus draw their hearts.
John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
It becomes time for dinner. Jesus takes the place at the table for the host. The two do not stop Him. He blesses the bread and breaks it. Did they see the nail prints in His hands? Did Jesus simply drop the veil He had put up? I don't know, but they knew Him in that instant - and He vanished.
Luke 24:32-35 And they said to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?" 33 And they arose that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, 34 saying, "The Lord has really risen, and has appeared to Simon." 35 And they began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.
Their hearts burned within them as Jesus spoke. They had deeply suspected but were both afraid of that step of faith into the darkness. How could it be Jesus? They had seen Him buried. But, this man was telling them that Jesus was Who He had claimed to be! Who else had ever explained this to them? Only Jesus. It had to be Him.
More nonsense. It is now dark. The road to Jerusalem is known to be dangerous to travel at night, due to robbers and thieves. Many victims are left for dead, like the traveler in Jesus' story of the Good Samaritan. But these two gather themselves as quickly as they can and hurry back to tell the others still there. When they arrive, they realize they are not the only ones who Jesus has visited. Simon Peter is specifically mentioned along with all the other of the remaining disciples. Jesus' purpose has been accomplished. They are together again.
Doubt had crept in and snuffed the faith of even the closest of the disciples to a single, dim ember. Their faith had failed to the point that, when the women returned from the tomb with the news of the victory of the ages, they were not believed. Jesus had told them that on the third day He would rise again from the grave, victorious over death. The Lord had done exactly as He had promised and when it happened, the news was considered nonsense.
There are times when our faith is too small - when we can not believe, or we are afraid to believe for fear of appearing foolish or being hurt. We fall back on what we can understand ,refusing to reach out with faith and trust God. Before we are too hard on these people who had walked with Jesus, we must look in the mirror and see ourselves honestly. Whether the news is too great to believe, or so totally inexplicable that only faith can explain it, we have some human fears to cast off. The fear of being perceived as believing nonsense.
1 Cor 1:18-21 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside." 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
The concrete wisdom of this world will soon be brushed aside to nothingness. That will leave one choice in the contest between the wisdom of God vs. the wisdom of man.
Lord Jesus - the ideas that this world holds dear and mighty will be destroyed and laid bare as the foolishness that they are. Your plan of salvation reaching out to mankind is so beyond our thinking we tend to brush it off as nonsense. But You reach out to one heart at a time, refocusing the heart and the mind to see more clearly. Give us the courage and the patience to share with our lives - show the world something they desperately want that only You have. Help us to show them Your peace. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.